For executive chef Austin Perkins, joining the team at Nick’s Cove in 2011 was akin to coming home — Perkins was born and raised in Petaluma, a hop, skip and a jump away from the West Marin coast. Early in life he enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen along- side his father to create dishes showcasing the farm-fresh offerings available nearby. After honing his skills in Healdsburg, Perkins made his way back to his roots, and to Nick’s. “My favorite thing about working at Nick’s Cove is the place itself,” he says. “Anyone who has ever been there knows exactly what I mean; it is one of the most unique and beautiful places in Northern California and in my opinion, far beyond.” Nick’s also offers an ideal setting for a romantic meal, and with Valentine’s Day on the menu this month, the chef has a few tips: “Make a reservation. You do not want to show up and not have a place to sit with your date. Also, enjoy the company of the person you are with. Let the restaurant be the icing on the cake.” If you’re planning on staying in, we suggest concocting a Nick’s Cove favorite — Grilled Oysters “Nick-erfeller.”
Grilled Oysters Nick-erfeller
YIELDS 24 OYSTERS
1⁄2 pound unsalted butter, plus 1 teaspoon, divided
2 shallots, minced
2 ounces Pernod
1 bunch tarragon, chopped
2 tablespoons flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped 1 teaspoon chives, chopped 11⁄2 tablespoon salt
2 dozen Pacific oysters
1. In a large mixing bowl leave 1⁄2 pound butter out and covered to soften.
2. In a sauté pan, add the teaspoon of butter and shallots and sauté over low heat until soft and translucent.
3. Deglaze with Pernod and bring to a boil, reduce mixture by a quarter and add to the mixing bowl.
4. Add all herbs and salt to the mixing bowl and combine thoroughly.
5. Place an oyster knife in the groove at the bottom of the oyster, and work knife in and up the side of the shell until the top of the shell is removed.
6. Locate the adductor muscle (round and tough, about a third of the way down the opened oyster).
7. Place oyster knife at the back of the muscle and detach meat from the shell.
8. Turn grill on high, or prepare coals. Top each oyster with one teaspoon of butter mixture.
9. Grill 2 minutes or until butter bubbles, about 10–15 seconds. Remove and enjoy.
The article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition under the headline: “Beautiful Bivalves”